I was really excited when I read this on Coming Anarchy: the People’s Republic of China requested the Japanese Self-Defense Forces deliver aid to survivors of the Sichuan Earthquake. This would be the first military deployment by Japan in China since 1945:
ComingAnarchy.com Â» Blog Archive Â» I hope to see Japanese military planes over China
No, I am not some militarist condoning a preemptive attack on China. I am supporting Chinaâ€™s request for Japanese soldiers to deliver earthquake relief aid in Sichuan. The Japanese government is still deliberating as this would be the first deployment of Japanese military forces to the Chinese mainland since the second world war.
Jun Okumura thinks it is a nice idea, but worries about being taken in by a Chinese bully. Tobias Harris also supports the plan and points out how it perplexes both the political Right and Left in Japan. My favourite quote is from the Social Democratic Party of Japan who are against the plan claiming that â€œthe JSDF are not a disaster relief organization (saigai kyuujo dantai).â€
Unfortunately, elements in both sides would rather waste time than move forward. As noted in the CA article, some in Japan don’t want to JSDF deployed in that way. But what sounds a lot like concern over the same ultra-nationalist bloggers who threaten the safety of students in America led China to backtrack.
Too bad. I wonder how many kidneys / arms / legs / lives could have been saved if not for the dithering.
The one good thing out of this is that the second request for something is typically less shocking than the first.
I hope we don’t have to wait for another 70K dead to get there.
(I am posting my reply to “æ²™ç‰¹ä¹Ÿæ˜¯å…„å¼Ÿï¼ï¼å„å›½çš„ææ¬¾ç¥¥æƒ…” here, as replying in the forum requires registration. My attempt to register in another Chinese forum was silently rejected, which I consider to be suspicious.)
Note that these numbers are artificially low. Many countries, including the United States, offered aid in the form of military personnel, airlift capacity, etc. Because the Communist Party does not want pictures of foreign soldiers helping Chinese people in China, the Party refused these offers of assistance.
Still, it is good to see that so many people are helping China. This is a terrible tragedy!
The Economist has the best analysis of the Sichuan earthquake, focusing on how embarrassment leads globalizing governments to learn the right lessons.
So was the contrast with the China of 1976, when an even deadlier earthquake struck the city of Tangshan. The full awfulness of that eventâ€”at least 250,000 people diedâ€”was not revealed for months, and offers of foreign help were spurned.
China’s rulers are still proud and sometimes prickly, but for reasons good and bad they have changed. They got a nasty shock, for instance, in 2003 when an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, SARS, showed how a virulent new plague, if uncontained, might impose huge costs on a modernising economy. This taught them that burying bad news is not always sensible. A fierce freeze-up this January showed how the weather could also bring paralysis, less economically damaging perhaps but awkward all the same over a great national holiday. This showed them the merits of occasionally admitting imperfection, and even of offering a prime-ministerial apology. Since then they have learnt that beating up their Tibetan citizens may not be wise just as they are trying to impress the world with an Olympic extravaganza.
Tom’s take is pretty good, too.